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Author: BBC News -
Published on 28 January 2011 05:00 PM

The first visit by a north Belfast preacher to the west of the city has brought unexpected good news for a pensioner robbed in her home earlier this month.

Pastor James McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle asked those attending a service at Andersonstown Leisure Centre to contribute to a collection for 84-year-old Mary Beirne.

They donated £2,400 which was handed over to Mrs Beirne's niece Stacie in the BBC Radio Ulster Talkback studio on Friday afternoon.

The community in west Belfast had already contributed a separate £1,000 for the Whiterock resident, whose life savings of £4,000 were stolen in the robbery.

Stacie said the robbery had been frightening but she had been left speechless by the community's kindness.

"This generosity has proved that it does work when people come together," she added.

"You think that you're on your own but when things like this happen, you realise you're not.

"The family just appreciate it so much."

Pastor McConnell, who heard of Mrs Beirne's plight on Talkback on Tuesday, said he had been "led by the Lord" to come to her aid.

"I thought, why don't I help this dear old lady, and the people just responded."

Talkback presenter Wendy Austin handed the money to Mary Beirne's neice Stacie live on air.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575